Feb
03

Understanding the extension for Alain Vigneault

February 3, 2017, by

Earlier this week, the Rangers extended head coach Alain Vigneault’s contract another two years through the 2019-2020 season. The timing was a bit odd, as AV still had another full year on his initial deal and was fresh off a pretty embarrassing playoff defeat last season. But it’s tough to argue with AV’s success with the Rangers. He sports a 175-97-23, good for a .632 win percentage.

AV is a very smart coach. His systems on the ice generate solid offense. There’s a reason why he is as successful as he is. It’s not just dumb luck. But he is not a perfect coach. His flaws not only overshadow his successes, but follow him from team to team.

The biggest flaws that have plagued AV are his evaluation of defensive talent and his stubborn loyalty to “his guys.” This has created a stigma that he will follow his own guys to the bottom of the standings. It’s tough to really argue with this, as it’s what ran him out of town in Vancouver and has made him wildly unpopular the past two seasons in New York.

There’s plenty of evidence to support this, as Tanner Glass routinely found himself in the lineup over significantly more skilled players. AV has moved past Glass, as GM Jeff Gorton has created a lineup that has 15 forwards better than Glass that fit AV’s systems better. However AV has yet to move past the Dan Girardi/Kevin Klein duo, that have been downright awful this year and in years past.

Perhaps it’s a matter of Gorton replacing the aging veterans with players that fit the mold. But if that were the case, why hasn’t Adam Clendening, who is no worse than Klein in the defensive zone this year, getting more time? Once again, signs point to AV sticking with his guys no matter what.

It is likely two-fold. The first is AV recognizing that when presented with better options, he needs to move past his guys. The second is on Gorton to force his hand, as he did with Glass this year.

Beyond roster decisions, there are many questions regarding AV and his ability to win that fourth game in June. He fell short in Vancouver and in New York, and saw both teams regress to playoff jokes soon thereafter. That is certainly troubling, given the concerns noted above

Joe Fortunato at Blueshirt Banter said it best, AV is a good coach, but he may not be the coach. And don’t let the flaws fool you, AV is certainly a good coach. However those flaws stick out like a sore thumb. Maybe Jeff Gorton needs to provide him with better players before he can move on. Until we see what happens with the blue line personnel, the extension isn’t something I’m worrying about.

Yet.

Categories : Coaching

74 comments

  1. amy says:

    he is getting the most out of his players and they are contributing

  2. Bayman says:

    The same argument was used last year in re why McIlrath couldn’t crack the lineup. McIlrath has just cleared waivers for the second time this year and is back in the AHL. No one in the NHL thinks he’s good enough to play, but his absence from the lineup last year was seized upon here time after time after time as an example of AV sticking with ‘his guys’. No, he was sticking with the best players he had to choose from.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      McIlrath looked better than other players in the RD spot last year. This year’s waiver activity, while noteworthy, doesn’t dispel accusations that AV seems to get personnel decisions, mostly on the blue line, wrong at times.

      • Bayman says:

        McIlrath looked good to people who wanted him to look good. He’s too slow and finds himself out of position too often. If this weren’t true, at least one of 30 teams would find a spot for him. Not even the awful LOLanche considered him worth a try. Maybe Vegas will find a spot for him.

        • Hatrick Swayze says:

          You’re overlooking the fact that we have more inadequate defensemen.

          • Bayman says:

            I’m overlooking nothing. If McIlrath isn’t good enough to play for the other 29 teams, he’s not good enough to play for a team with Cup aspirations. To argue differently is absurd.

            • Hatrick Swayze says:

              You’re still overlooking the fact that we have more inadequate defensemen.

              • Walt says:

                Amen !!!!!!!!!!

              • Bayman says:

                If you’re going to be a troll, please do so on another site.

              • rich s says:

                Last year In limited playing time Dylan McIlrath graded HIGHER than any other rangers defenseman except for mcDonagh….

                Had Girardi or Stall not had guaranteed contracts, both would have been placed on waivers, and probably not picked up be any other team!!!!

                For whatever reason AV decided not to give him more playing time and allow him to develop…..

                Why didnt other teams pick him up? I dont know and i dont care, but probably because 29 other teams have better defensemen than we do. Didnt we allow anton strallman to walk away after he was our best defenseman his last year here???? In favor of signing dan boyle???? Whose bright idea was that???

            • Peter says:

              Good Lord not McIlrath again?

              The kid isn’t even playing at Florida and has been a healthy scratch consistently. The rest of the NHL passed on him. The knock is that he is not ready. He might be ready some day, but when he was with the Rangers he played very protected minutes and didn’t cut it.

              The rap that AV ruined him is malarkey. What the problem was is simple: he wasn’t ready and to keep him without him going UFA they had to p,at him more than they could afford to.

              I think he might make it as a defenseman some day but he needs to be groomed in the AHL or in a similar league.

              • paulronty says:

                Yes he’s at Springfield now & this is good because between the Rangers & Panthers, he’s lost two development years. Being a UFA next year, he & his agents will have options.

      • sherrane says:

        Sadly I think its a case where McIlrath looked better because most of us wanted him to. His mistakes wasn’t the lack of ability, but “rust” or some other excuse to justify more playing time.

        He came a long way from a couple of years ago and I was hopeful he could develop into a solid Ranger defenseman. He wasn’t as close as a lot of people thought. He was brutal in the few Panther games I saw him play, which was the first time I think I truly saw him for the player he is.

        He will be a free agent after the season unless Florida re-signs him. It will be interesting to see if anyone takes a flier on him.

        • Chris A says:

          I think Dylan is going to be in the KHL next year. That league would be a good fit for him. They still like punch ups and would pay him a major league salary.

          Who knows, maybe after playing a couple of full seasons over there he might develop into a serviceable 7th D in the NHL.

          • Spozo says:

            If skating is what’s holding him back than he would be even worse in the larger rinks in the KHL.

    • paulronty says:

      “No one in the NHL thinks he’s good enough to play.” Really? Just because a guy cleared waivers doesn’t mean no body thinks he’s good enough to play in the NHL. Frankly, right NOW, he’s better than Klein, Girardi & Clendening. The Panthers have a stacked D that’s set. Tough for him to get ice there, but he could have got ice with the Rangers. Next year he’s a UFA, so we’ll see if no one signs him. Your defence of AVs choices last year is unmitigated BS. As for trolls, how could HS be a troll, when he posts here all the time, which makes you the troll.

    • Reenavipul says:

      Statistically, you’re mistaken. Eye test, you’re mistaken. Your allegation is a fallacy after the fact. Just because AV got a contract evaluation and the Florida Panthers exist doesn’t mean you’re right.

      At this point McIlrath is going to be a UFA next season so there’s no point wasting a 50 man roster spot on him until next season. That’s just the biz. It doesn’t mean him or a pair of dirty socks wouldn’t be an upgrade on Klein.

  3. Avraham says:

    which dmen did av overlook in Vancouver in favir of veterans?

  4. Ray says:

    AV was not fired in Vancouver for his shortcomings. He was fired because his results were deemed unsatisfactory. That is why most coaches get fired.

    You may not like his personnel decisions, but he has not made egregious decisions. I agree that playing Tanner Glass was a mistake, but “played ahead of significantly more skilled players” is misleading. I suppose we can pick nits and you can argue that you said more skilled and not better, but if we ignore that distinction, the assertion that he played ahead of significantly better players is just false. Last year’s Rangers had one or two or three forwards that most people would regard is having the edge on Glass, but it really wasn’t much of an edge frankly. Going back a year, Sheppard was better than Glass, but so what. This year, there are a number of significantly better options and we are seeing them.

    As for Klein and Girardi vs. Clendening and McIlrath, again the rejected options are simply not that stellar.

    Contrast with Tortorella, who couldn’t find a place for Mats Zuccarello. I’ll take a guy who makes the wrong choice among mediocrities any day.

    • Ben says:

      McIlrath is not Clendening. Even AV knows that, since it was Clendening we kept.

      Clendening is better at this point than Girardi and Klein, and has looked good mostly playing alongside a pretty good rookie. McIlrath looked good playing with a stud offensive d-man.

      It is not a difference of mediocrities. Clendening is hands down a significant upgrade over Klein, Girardi, and Staal. He has played better than Skjei in the time he has received. The only time Skjei has looked as good as Clendening is when they are playing together.

      I would go so far as to say that Clendening has looked better than Holden when Holden is playing on the right side.

      McIlrath was never the best option of our RD. Clendening, right now, is.

      • Ray says:

        Clendening’s history suggests he is not all that good. Bear in mind, as AV does not really trust him, he has been used in less stressful situations, situations where a lesser defenseman can succeed.

        Now, that said, I absolutely agree that Clendening is better than Klein. I agree that AV should be playing him. My point is that he is not MUCH better than Klein, that AV’s “mistake” here is not as important as many other mistakes he could be making – maybe some that he is making.

        All coaches err.

        • Walt says:

          I think I heard this story before with this coach.

          Now Dylan is gone, and so be it, but playing Girardi with a broken knee cap, or whatever the knee injury was, over a healthy player is a case of lunacy in my opinion. Marv Levy stuck with Girardi in spite of this, and may have cost us a deeper run last season, probably not, but again playing a man at 50%, over a healthy player, the man needs to have his head examined for it!!!!!!!!!

        • John B says:

          I’d be more than happy to post his stats that prove otherwise. Everywhere he’s gone, except Chicago where he started, teams have the puck more and have a higher xGF60 and a lower xGA60 when he’s on the ice.

          This year, Clendening is much better than Klein. Better CF%, higher xGF60, more SCF60, lower xGA60 and significantly less SCA60.

      • supermaz says:

        Ben, you must get a different MSG feed than me.

      • Playground 9 says:

        Ben – I couldn’t agree more on Clendening. I don’t know what games the rest of you guys have been watching! I think if you get rid of Girardi and Klein and put Clendening permanently into the lineup and bring in or bring up someone else – what’s the worst that can happen? We are not going anywhere at the moment. Finally I wouldn’t blame it all on the defense. I would say the defense is better offensively than the offense is defensively. I see a hell of lot guys floating out there just waiting for the puck. That isn’t the the way the hated Pens play. Just my two cents

    • John B says:

      The following players have all been scratches while Tanner Glass remained in the lineup:

      JT Miller
      Lee Stepmanik
      Jesper Fast
      Kevin Hayes
      Emerson Etem
      Victor Stahlberg

      Etem might be only player at Or only slightly better than Glass. All the others are significantly better on their worst days. And the dumb iPad keeps screwing up name spellings

    • Richter1994 says:

      “but he has not made egregious decisions”

      Ray, his handling of Game 7 against TB was about as egregious as it gets. He employed a line up where by almost one third of it was useless in the most important game of the season.

      Not to mention that he failed to make any adjustments after Game 5’s shutout at home. Same result in Game 7. You get shutout at home twice, even after scoring 6 in Game 6, you would think that Game 7 would be different.

      • Walt says:

        great point, and when things are brought out like this, you become a smart ass according to some !!!!!!!!

        • Cracked Helmet says:

          Walt you still don’t get it. Richter made his point without all the baby name calling that you do. So that’s the difference. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I don’t think anyone is saying what a great coach we have. I have some problems with his thinking sometimes also. But you constantly bash our coach even when nobody is talking about him sometimes and you do it like a miserable old man or a little baby that wants to make sure everyone knows how sarcastic you can be. It’s so immature and has gotten so old!!!!!!!!!!! What I find amazing is when the rangers were winning a lot you disappeared and now you came back because you have something to complain about

          • Walt says:

            I’ve posted all along, win or loose, except during the early part of the season when I said I’d not post for a while. I don’t like the man, and people support him, that’s their right, I don’t, and am adamant about it. I don’t like his style, his favoritism, and his favorites. As for being consistent, I am, and if you don’t care for my post, so be it, don’t read them, this way you won’t get upset!!!!!!!

            Have a nice day……….

          • paulronty says:

            So you are a dude who is obviously here regularly, but you use the name CRACKED HELMET to make your point without revealing your real identity. That’s because you are a cheap shot coward.

            • Walt says:

              thanks doc !!!!!!!!!

            • Cracked Helmet says:

              You gotta be kidding with that one

            • Cracked Helmet says:

              What the hell is the difference what name I use. If I said my name was Charlie or bob Would you know who I was then dumbass. And Walt again I say the same thing. Of course you can have your opinion I don’t care if you think he’s the worst coach, that’s fine. I’m talking about the sarcasm and name calling. It’s like you can’t handle when someone disagrees with you. You gotta mention it. Or the ” have a nice day part

            • Cracked Helmet says:

              I see we have a tough guy here

  5. SalMerc says:

    AV is an excellent coach, that is why he got an extension. All coaches make their own choices based on things we are not privy to. Clendening is a 6th D on just about any team in this league. McIlrath has shown to be a 7th or 8th D. JT needed discipline and Hayes needed to get his head in the game. That is why he showed them tough love. They are both better players for it this year. Tanner Glass, I cannot explain. He has offensive players that work in his system, so he looks like a better coach. If he had 3 speedy defenseman, he may be the messiah. If the Queen had balls . . . . .

    • Snake says:

      “All coaches make their own choices based on things we are not privy to. ”

      Whether it is the press or fans, that is one fact that doesn’t get near enough attention. If we knew exactly what was going on in the locker and off the ice, we might better understand moves that we find baffling.

    • John B says:

      Clendening might very well only be a solid 5 or 6 defenseman. But with our options, he’s better than all but two players in front of him.

      I fully agree that he is a GOOD coach. He has an excellent offensive mind. Great coaches make other teams adjust to them and dictate the terms of the game. AV has one style. We play that style. If the other team stifles that style…go back to step one, AV has one style.

      He is a good coach. I think they’re are other options out there in other leagues that understand where hockey is going. I heard on a podcast and it bears consideration. Did the Rangers extend him, just in case we flame out we control his rights and where he can go if fired.

    • Reenavipul says:

      The coach watches the same game I do, so either his cognitive biases are flawed or mine are. I’m guessing former because at games in person I watch D primarily and just see poor decision after poor decision out of Klein.

      Girardi has been marginally better the last 10 games but Klein has been garbage.

      • paulronty says:

        He doesn’t watch the game, he figures it out later when he watches the tape. LOL!

  6. Al Dugan says:

    Every discussion EVERY DISCUSSION on this site devolves into a 6th v 7th defenseman argument and 12th v 13th forward.

    Dylan McIlraith could not play in the NHL for two teams and 28 passed on him. But, it’s AV’s fault.

    Someone above said Clendenning would be the 6th D on every other team in the league! Are you HIGH?

    • Spozo says:

      My go to comment last season was “this is great news, they are playing well enough that we can go in to an hours long discussion on the 12th forward (Glass)”.

      With that being said I will admit that Clendening should play more. NOT because he is better than Girardi or Klein, but because I feel a game off here and there will make Girardi and Klein better.

      • John B says:

        Girardi and Klein are not getting better. They’re getting worse.

        Clendening is far better than either.

  7. Stranger Nation says:

    Are people responding to the AV article or a different invisible post on McIlrath I did not see.
    AV is hoping Klein returns to close to normal as Done G is the other option and AV knows he is done.
    Bigger problem this season is trying to make a top 12 instead of having at least one checking line. Pirri, Pumps, please; these guys are softer than a mashed potato sandwich. Gorton gave him too many shiny toys and now the 4th line is the land of misfit toys.

    • Walt says:

      Stranger

      Can I quote you on your last line, it’s a keeper !!!!!!!!!!!

    • John B says:

      The days of having a “checking line” are gone. You need to ice 12 players who are capable of sustains pressure. Forecheck, yes. Backcheck, yes. Have a line of 3 guys who just run around to hit people? No. To hit someone means they have the puck. They have the puck, they’re coming to our zone. No thank you. Make hem have to try and hit us in their zone. The best defense, is having the puck out of your zone as much as possible

  8. supermaz says:

    When exactly has Klein been “downright awful” in years past? I’m not a big fan of AV but I’m hoping when presented with a better option on defense he’ll take it. And don’t tell me he has, in Clendening because he’s awful.

    • John B says:

      Yet Clendening has out performed most of the other defenseman. So if he’s “awful”, what are the others?

    • Reenavipul says:

      Years past? Been a solid 2nd pair, but out of his depth in 1st pair minutes.

      This year he’s been Love Canal bad. Centralia coal fire bad. The last time he had a good game was after he had a healthy scratch back in early December.

      • paulronty says:

        Is he playing injured like G was last year? Often when a guy deteriorates badly, a playable injury may be there, like Gaborik playing with one arm in the POs & McDonagh on a broken foot.

  9. rich s says:

    In the past few years we have had and traded or let go the following defensemen
    anton strallman, michael delzotto, john moore , keith yandle , justin faulk

    All of them would be regulars on this defense right now if they were here!!!

    Who gets the blame for the current state of our defense??????

    • Cracked Helmet says:

      You do

      • Walt says:

        Now who’s the smart ass fella ? Are you sure that your not concussed, and not in a cloud ? Just a thought !!!!!!!!

      • rich s says:

        Great answer!!!!!
        I am still laughing 5 minutes later!!!!

        Thanks

    • John B says:

      Glen Sather.

      Sather signed Girardi to the extension when he was already declining massively. If I had to live with one bad contract, I’d rather have Staal’s.

      • paulronty says:

        Glen Sather & his teams have one thing in common—inconsistency.

      • Richter1994 says:

        Yeah Sather does get the blame for over $11M per to G and Staal when you can get 3 better players for the same money.

  10. stevesse says:

    I find this article full of hyperbole. Look at these statements:
    ” made him wildly unpopular in New York” By whom?
    “both teams regress to playoff jokes” The Rangers lost to the eventual Stanley Cup Champs.
    “and the duo has been bad this year and years past” Maybe G for the past two, but Klein has been as good or better than advertised until this year.
    Also, is it possible that Gorton did not force AV’s hand but rather they realized that the movement of Hags was the disaster that needed to be fixed. Coaches don’t necessarily win championships, GM’s do. Look at the dead Penguins team until the trades, and even when the Rangers won in 94.Keeping a team in the hunt in what makes a good coach(IMHO).

    • John B says:

      Pitt made only a couple of trades. The biggest was the Daley trade. PITT turned it around when sullivan over and recognized his dead to play in the offensive zone to minimize the defenseman exposure

      The Rangers Have regressed. We put out two terrible stinkers both at home in 2015 where we could have advanced. Last year was an embarrassment. The same things that have held us back continue to occur. At the very least we’re not moving forward.

  11. paulronty says:

    Yes it was a strange time to give AV an extension. That decision should have been made at the end of the season, when the full results are in. But so be it! Time will tell if it was the right decision. If the team thrives in the playoffs, then it was the right decision. If they fall on their @$$ like last year, then it will have been a regrettable mistake.

  12. howiehockey says:

    A very good article. I agree with a lot of it. At the end of last season Gorton said the Rangers had to get younger and faster and made some very good changes with the forwards. My complaint with AV is his line-mixing. He seems to always be the last person to recognize chemistry between players. For example, at the start of this season he put Zibby, krieds and Buscnevich together. Fantastic.

    Then zibby comes back and it doesn’t ever dawn on him to reunite them. The reason Zuc is no getting more goals is he has the wrong center. Stepan is the wrong guy for Zuc… anyone but Stepan would be better, especially JT or Grabner

    At the end of last season ..Both AV and Gorton made comments about Dan Girardi having a bounce back year. While that may have been possible it was more improbable. Expecting a 33 year old d-man to bounce-back was delusional. Gorton had the opportunity to buy Girardi out and failed to do so.

  13. Richter1994 says:

    It’s still about results. Torts was fired 4 months after his extension, so…

  14. bernmeister says:

    well written

    no denying the solid +s as to Xs and Os, but I expect others can pick up the system he installed.

    The errors in personnel judgment are astounding

    Kreider and Miller and Hayes have all survived IN SPITE OF coach AV

    McIlrath was not so lucky, which is not only horrible undervalue of talent, but leaves us w/o enforcer.
    We don’t want Kreider fighting every fight and breaking his hand on someone’s helmet.

    Best we could hope for is trade AV’s contract for a pick.
    If we were lucky, we could ship Girardi and Glass and AV to LV for a 7th rounder!

    Ah, perchance to dream….

    • Richter1994 says:

      I agree with a lot of this, but just not as dramatic in getting rid of him. Firing will do, lol.

      Maybe we could sell LV on the “you need to get to the cap floor” requirement, lol.

  15. rich s says:

    well said!

    his biggest fault as I see it is his inability to make in game adjustments……